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FOR RELEASE: January 12, 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

National Expert to Promote Nurse-Family Partnerships During Oklahoma Visit

The country’s leading expert on the use of Nurse-Family Partnerships to improve the health of new mothers and their children will be at the State Capitol tomorrow to update state legislators about the opportunities the Nurse-Family Partnership offers Oklahoma families.

David Olds, PhD., professor of pediatrics and director of the Prevention Research Center for Family and Child Health at the University of Colorado, will present a program on Nurse-Family Partnerships on Thursday, Jan. 13, at 2:30 p.m. in room 108 at the State Capitol.

Olds is the developer and lead researcher for the Nurse-Family Partnership model, which has gained statewide and national recognition regarding its services and referrals to families expecting their first child. The program promotes mother-child bonding, child development, access to community resources, and positive parenting skills.

In 1997, Oklahoma became the first state to implement the Olds model statewide. Children First: Oklahoma’s Nurse-Family Partnership, promotes positive pregnancy and birth outcomes and parent-child interactions as part of the public health services offered by the Oklahoma State Department of Health to Oklahoma families. During state fiscal year 2004, 5,869 Children First families received services. Twenty-three other states are now utilizing the Nurse-Family Partnership model to help improve the health of mothers and children.

Children First: Oklahoma’s Nurse-Family Partnership, enrolls women who are less than 29 weeks pregnant with their first baby and the family’s income must be less than 185 percent of the federal poverty level. A typical client is described as a single mother about 19 years old, with an average of 11.5 years of education and an annual income of less than $15,000. Nearly 60 percent are unemployed, 69 percent are enrolled in Medicaid six months after giving birth, and 86 percent receive Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) services six months after giving birth.

The program provides home visits to the family until the child’s second birthday. Nurses provide health and developmental assessments, education and referrals, and support to families needing help to cope with the demands of caregiving, working or continuing their education.

The program’s goals include:

  1. Improve pregnancy outcomes by helping women alter their health-related behaviors;
  2. Improve child health and development by helping parents provide more responsible and competent care for their children; and
  3. Improve economic self-sufficiency by helping parents develop a vision for their own future.

According to national randomized controlled trials conducted over the past 30 years, the Nurse-Family Partnership program has shown that when compared to their peers without services, participating mothers show a reduction in child abuse and neglect, a reduction in arrests, and mothers are more likely to stop receiving public welfare and move to successful employment. Benefits to children include an improvement in readiness to enter school, a reduction in alcohol use and a reduction in cigarette use when children reach adolescence (age 15), and a reduced incidence of juvenile delinquency.

A recent cost-benefit analysis by the Washington State Center on Public Policy showed a savings of more than $17,000 for children born to mothers participating in the Nurse-Family Partnership programs. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Justice, the Office of the Surgeon General, and the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health have praised the program.

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